Arcturus – Arcturian Reviewed

To be honest, I probably wouldn’t write this review if it wasn’t my most requested album. This new album is quite a strange beast. It has some metal aspects, but also prog rock, dance, and electronica make their appearance. I know those words turned a lot of people off, but I went in thinking it would be a really cool idea if it worked.

I think I’ve said this before, but negative reviews are hard to write. When I hear a lot of stuff I like, I can spend the review talking about those things. This album never clicked for me. Except for a few tracks, I found it to be ordinary in every way.

The most interesting bits were the electronica parts. For example, the start of “The Journey” sets up a beat with shifting electronic patterns under a fluid violin. Then some acoustic guitar comes in and layered vocals. It actually sounds a lot like something Pat Metheny might make. That’s probably a bad thing, but on listening to this album, I awaited tracks like these as a nice break from the monotony of the others.

Take the track that follows. The verse is essentially two chords on repeat. The sound is almost doom-like but without the heaviness. The melody lacks any driving motion (of course, melody is intimately tied to the underlying chord progression, so when the chord progression lacks motion, so too does the melody). The song is one of the least memorable I’ve heard this year.

I’ll reiterate, most of the tracks aren’t bad per se. They are just totally uninteresting at their core. Sure, many have lots of things happening that can distract you like string sections, electronica, crazy vocals, but these tools only do so much for a few listens.

The standout tracks are “Crashland,” “Warp,” “Demon,” and “The Journey.” To me, these ones at least attempted to incorporate the extraneous techniques into a more fundamental role. The melody and chord progressions on these tracks have content, and the sound they achieve is unique.

Overall, I give this a 4/10. I often dreaded having to slog through the drab parts to get to moments of interest. Those moments are good, but too infrequent. Here’s a bunch of samples:

One thought on “Arcturus – Arcturian Reviewed

  1. Tim says:

    Hey I remember a while back you saying something about trying to find a band that balanced metal and electronic music (I think it was in the Destrage review). Have you looked at Sirens’s new album “Surge”? It’s djenty (sort of like Veil of Maya) with some electronic flair (occasionally going full dubstep). I don’t know if it’s quite what you’re going for, and I wouldn’t consider it album of the year material, but I thought you might be interested.

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